Construction Cost-Share Adjusted in Senate Environment & Public Works Committee-Passed AWIA/WRDA 2020 BillView Full Article
Construction Cost-Share Adjusted in Senate Environment & Public Works Committee-Passed AWIA/WRDA 2020 Bill
On May 6, the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee marked up and unanimously passed, by a 21-0 roll call vote, America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2020, which included the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
The EPW Committee’s bill, reported to the Senate, included WCI’s top WRDA priority to adjust the cost-share for construction and major rehabilitation of inland waterways projects. The Senate EPW Committee’s provision to adjust the cost-share from 50% from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF)/50% General Revenues to 35% IWTF/65% General Revenues serves to ensure inland waterways construction and major rehabilitation projects can advance more efficiently.
The Senate bill also authorized the Chief’s Report for Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Brazos River Floodgates and Colorado River Locks at the same adjusted cost-share.
The bill also encourages the Corps to expedite the completion of the Kentucky Lock Post Authorized Change Report (PACR), which set a new authorized amount for the total cost of construction on that project.
In an April 22, 2020 Statement for the Record on draft legislation (America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and The Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said, “As drafted, WRDA 2020 includes some of my top infrastructure priorities such as an Inland Waterways Trust Fund cost-share modification that will help upgrade locks and dams more quickly along the Illinois and Mississippi River, helping farmers and other industries maintain their global competitiveness.”
Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said of the bill, “I am glad this bill prioritizes investment in the MKARNS (McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System), a vital economic maritime highway freight corridor that supports commerce in every county in Oklahoma. This bill will make additional federal investment in water infrastructure possible, ensuring projects vital to Oklahoma, like deepening the MKARNS, happen more quickly and efficiently.”
The House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee is expected to release its draft of the WRDA bill in mid-July. WCI continues to urge that the House include a 75%/25% cost-share adjustment.
House Democrats Release Green Surface Transportation Bill
On June 4, House Democrats introduced a $494 billion climate-change-focused surface transportation bill. The “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act” will reauthorize the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (the highway and transit program) for five years. It is set to expire September 30. The House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee marked up the bill June 17 and it is expected to be considered on the floor by the end of June or early July.
The package advocates for states to address the effects of climate change, including CO2 emission reductions, management of extreme weather, and building additional electric vehicle recharging stations. The INVEST Act does not address inland waterways infrastructure, and does not include a provision for how to pay for the package.
Last July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed a $287 billion highway bill, but without consensus for how to pay for it. There remains staunch opposition to raising the federal gas and diesel tax for pay for infrastructure.
This Just In…
The INVEST Act will be rolled into a larger, $1.5 trillion House infrastructure package (H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act) that is aimed at rebuilding American infrastructure to include highways, bridges, transit, rail, airports, ports/harbors ( to “keep cargo moving by funding the essential dredging and upkeep of American harbors, ports, and channels”); broadband, schools and child care, local financing & community development, housing, drinking water and wastewater, clean energy, the U.S. Postal Service, and environment/public lands. The bill is expected on the House floor the week of June 29.
Reps. Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Bruce Babin (R-TX) Lead ‘Dear Colleague’ Letter Signed by 78 Urging 75%/25%
An April “Dear Colleague” letter led by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) sent to the House T&I Committee garnered 78 signatures in support of adjusting the cost-share provision to 75% General Revenues/25% from the IWTF. Several other Members of the House indicated their individual requests to T&I to include this cost-share provision.
President’s Executive Order Waives NEPA And Other Environmental Regulations To Expedite Infrastructure Construction
On June 4, President Trump signed an Executive Order that waives requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other environmental laws in an effort to expedite construction of important infrastructure projects throughout the country. Notably, Section 4 of the Executive Order, titled “Expediting the Delivery of Civil Works Projects Within the Purview of the Army Corps of Engineers,” requires the Corps of Engineers to use all of its emergency authorities to expedite work on, and completion of, all authorized and appropriated Civil Works projects. Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James is required to issue a summary of all projects that have been expedited within 30 days.
The impact that this will have on inland waterways projects is yet to be known, and will depend on the actions of Secretary James.
The President stated that he signed the Executive Order as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak that has caused a dramatic downturn in the U.S. economy.
The President stated, “From the beginning of my Administration, I have focused on reforming and streamlining an outdated regulatory system that has held back our economy with needless paperwork and costly delays. Antiquated regulations and bureaucratic practices have hindered American infrastructure investments, kept America’s building trades workers from working, and prevented our citizens from developing and enjoying the benefits of world-class infrastructure.”
NEPA is a U.S. environmental law that was established in 1970 by the President’s Council on Environmental Quality. Since its enactment, more than 100 nations around the world have enacted policies modeled after NEPA. Among the changes NEPA made, Federal agencies are now required to evaluate the environmental effects of projects and actions. One example are the Environmental Assessments (EA) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) the Corps often uses in its preparatory work on navigation projects.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Supports States in Federal Government’s COVID-19 Response
By U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Office of Public Affairs, Headquarters
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is continuing to work with the White House, Department of Defense, and other federal, state, local and tribal partners in the nation’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. During disasters, USACE is the federal government’s lead for Emergency Support Function (ESF) 3, Public Works and Engineering, under the National Response Framework in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
As of May 20, USACE has received 64 FEMA Mission Assignments totaling approximately $1.8 billion. Twenty-seven mission assignments remain open and 37 have been closed. More than 1,500 USACE personnel are currently engaged from across the enterprise, providing direct and indirect support both on site and virtually. Of those engaged, more than 620 personnel are deployed away from their home organizations.
USACE continues to provide technical assistance at FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center and support to FEMA regions under ESF 3. The technical assistance includes planning and facility assessments for states, territories and tribes that request USACE assistance through FEMA for the possible conversion of existing buildings into alternate care facilities (ACF) to meet potential shortfalls for hospital beds as a result of COVID-19.
States, territories and tribes are responsible for identifying facilities to be assessed, determining the potential need for hospital beds, and whether they want the ACFs to support COVID or non-COVID patients. Site assessments determine if medical and infrastructure requirements can be met, including how many patients can fit into spaces and the proximity to nearby hospitals for critical elements of healthcare; utility requirements such as electrical, lighting, water, air filtration and handling capacities; safety features for emergency response and egress; staging of ambulances; and parking availability.
To date, USACE personnel have completed 1,152 site assessments of the 1,153 requested.
Since the first ACF construction contract was awarded March 25 to develop the Javits Convention Center ACF in New York City, USACE has awarded 37 total contracts to develop alternate care facilities in 17 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, and Navajo Nation. USACE, working with its contractor partners, has completed and turned over 32 of those ACFs to local authorities for operation and future disposition. The 37 ACFs represent more than 15,000 potential bed spaces for use in the fight against COVID-19.
When the potential mission for USACE to provide additional hospital capacity first arose, Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Commanding General of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and his team recognized that this was a complicated problem that needed a simple solution. The need to respond quickly meant the time was not available to construct new hospitals from the ground up. Other solutions had to be considered.
The recommended solution was to find existing buildings such as convention centers or arenas, hotels and university dormitories that could quickly be converted into alternate patient care facilities to augment existing medical capabilities.
USACE initially developed four basic site configuration plans to support COVID and non-COVID patients, and has since expanded that effort to include information related to reopening existing hospital facilities that have been previously closed and correctional facilities.
All designs are exportable and are available for use by states that have the capacity to develop ACFs without federal assistance. The designs have also been shared with some international partners.
For more information about USACE’s support to the COVID-19 response, visit https://www.usace.army.mil or connect on social media at http://about.me/USACEHQ
Letter Sent to Corps’ Partners: “Here to Serve You”
Dear Valued Partner,
For the past few weeks, we have been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) throughout the United States. We have been following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense to ensure we have the right plans and resources in place to safeguard everyone’s health and well-being.
At this time, a large portion of our workforce has been sent home and teams are working remotely. We assure you we are doing all we can to make sure our staff around the world continues to be ready and available to assist you. As always, the Corps’ number one priority is the safety of the American public and we stand ready to support our Nation in the fight against COVID-19.
As you might have heard, the Corps is working with multiple states to help design and build care sites. To learn more about Alternative Care Sites, visit our website at: https://www.usace.army.mil/Coronavirus/Alternate-Care-Sites/. We stand ready to accomplish this critical mission for the safety of the American public.
Additionally, we are committed to continuing key functions (continuity of operations) for essential Civil Works missions. These missions include our navigation, hydropower, and flood risk management functions. For example, we continue to push forward with authorized and appropriated programs and projects, construction projects (where practical), and maintenance of critical infrastructure and waterways to ensure channels and ports can remain open for the benefit of the global economy. In support of these efforts, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has published a memorandum identifying essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 response. This memorandum is a guide to government leaders and our commanders as they work to provide essential services, protect the workforce, and contribute to the national effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.
In addition to providing support for the fight against COVID-19, the Corps Civil Works Planning team is continuing its efforts to deliver the program. Work continues on the completion of Chief’s Reports in anticipation of the eventual passage of a Water Resources Development Act in 2020. At this time, we remain on track to complete 20 Chief’s Reports between now and the end of May and an additional 13 by the end of the calendar year. Additionally, work continues on the approximately 50 emergency supplemental studies.
While the transition to virtual workstations has been challenging, we have upgraded our critical Information Technology components and are now able to maintain more efficient and effective communication channels. This allows all levels of the Corps to proactively communicate and engage with our internal and external partners like you.
In these uncertain times, we are here to serve you and are working hard to stay on top of the situation in an effort to keep everyone safe and provide the best service possible. We greatly appreciate your continued support and look forward to working with you and others as we combat the spread of COVID-19. Above all, please continue to take care of yourself, your families and your co-workers.
If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to reach out to us at CW.Infrastructure.Team@usace.army.mil or contact your local Corps staff member.
Thank you again for your continued support as we revolutionize Civil Works.
ALVIN B. LEE
Director of Civil Works
Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Provision Included In Covid-19 Emergency Funding
Several phases of emergency supplemental funding have passed in Congress to bring relief to Americans from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) that passed in late March included a Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) provision that Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) strongly supported. Section 14003 provides that, when Congress appropriates any amount of funds from the HMTF for any given fiscal year, that amount is exempt from the Appropriations Committees’ domestic discretionary spending cap, up to a maximum of the prior year’s deposits into the HMTF. In a normal year, this would allow up to $1.8-$1.9 billion of HMTF appropriations for harbor dredging to occur outside of otherwise applicable spending caps that limit Congress’s flexibility under the 1974 Budget and Impoundment Control Act.
Once the provision becomes effective, it will still be up to the Appropriations Committees to decide how much to appropriate from the HMTF for each fiscal year, but it makes it easier to decide on a higher number if Congress so chooses. The provision goes into effect on January 1, 2021 or upon enactment of water resources development authorization legislation, whichever occurs first. This could be particularly helpful to any port that has additional dredging needs beyond what the Administration requests funding for in its budget proposal for the fiscal year, making it easier for Congress to add larger amounts of additional funding than would otherwise be the case. The provision applies to ports throughout the nation.
WCI Creates Shippers Communications Exchange
In an effort to help WCI’s shipper members stay abreast of any impediments to shipping in the time of COVID-19, high water, or other issues, WCI has created a weekly exchange of communications between operators and shippers. Join the exchange if you are interested. Contact Deb Calhoun, firstname.lastname@example.org, to be added to the list.
WCI Member Spotlight: CGB
In 1969, CGB’s founder had an idea that there was a better way to trade barge freight by merchandising the tariff rates. With just three employees in St. Louis, MO, this innovative idea, fueled by a strong entrepreneurial spirit, led to the creation of Consolidated Grain and Barge Co., thereby revolutionizing the barge freight industry.
“It’s no secret that we are driven by a commitment to entrepreneurialism. It has enabled us to constantly push new boundaries and enter new markets to better support our customers,” said Scott Leininger, Sr. Vice President, Consolidated Terminals and Logistics Co. & CGB Marine subsidiaries.
Now headquartered just outside of New Orleans, LA, in Covington, LA, CGB Enterprises, Inc. has diversified over the years to become a company with sizeable operations in logistics and transportation, agricultural products, crop insurance, agri-finance, soybean processing, producer risk management, and other related businesses. As a major transporter of essential goods along our nation’s inland waterways, CGB and its family of companies are proud supporters and members of Waterways Council, Inc.
“Our nation’s inland waterways provide the safest, most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly transportation mode for essential goods to and from over 37 of our facilities that are located on the various navigable rivers in the U.S. We are proud to be long-time members of WCI and strongly support its advocacy to improve the infrastructure of our aging locks and dams on the inland waterways,” said Leininger.
“Waterways Council, Inc. creates an environment for CGB to meet with key industry individuals and leaders, along with Congressional leaders at the state and federal level, to educate about the critical importance of our locks and dams and other aging infrastructure on our navigable waterways throughout the U.S. We very much value our relationship and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure support for our essential waterways,” said Kelly Buchanan, Marketing Manager, CGB.
To learn more about CGB and any of its companies, please visit www.cgb.com.
Schedule For Closure Of Illinois Waterway Remains In Place For July 1
On April 21, the Corps’ Rock Island District received the remaining funding necessary to execute the Illinois Waterway 2020 consolidated maintenance closures. The schedule for the five-lock closures starting July 1 is on track and is listed below. At this time, neither the Corps nor their contractors anticipate delays due to the pandemic, but the schedule is subject to change due to high water, or other conditions.
Find the current schedule of the project below and details here: https://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Navigation-Status/
LaGrange Lock and Dam – Major Rehabilitation & Lock Machinery Replacement
- Full closure scheduled July 1-Sept. 30
Peoria Lock and Dam – Dewatering for Maintenance and Inspection
- Full closure scheduled July 6 - Sept. 30
Starved Rock Lock and Dam – Upper & Lower Miter Gate Installation
- Full closure scheduled July 1-Oct. 29
Marseilles Lock and Dam – Upper Miter Gate Installation
- Full closure scheduled July 6-Oct. 29
Dresden Island Lock and Dam – Upper Bulkhead Recess Installation
- Partial Closure scheduled July 6-Oct. 3 and
Oct. 25-Oct. 28
- Locks operational from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. with a 70-ft width restriction and no ability to pull unpowered barges.
- Full Closure scheduled Oct. 4-Oct. 24
Dresden Island Lock and Dam – Upper Miter Gate Installation & Electrical Rehab
- Full closure scheduled Summer 2023, approx. 90-120 days
Marseilles Lock and Dam – Electrical Rehab
- Full closure scheduled Summer 2023, approx. 90-120 days
Starved Rock Lock and Dam – Sector Gear Rehab
- Full closure scheduled Summer 2023, approx. 90-120 days
Brandon Road Lock and Dam – Upper Bulkhead Recess Installation & Upper Miter Gate Installation
- Potential to include work at this site if construction projects were approved and funded as part of the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study at Brandon Road (GLMRIS-BR).
Get Social! WCI’s New Online Social Media Toolkit
Waterways Council has created a new Social Media Toolkit on our website (waterwayscouncil.org) to make posting on your social media feeds easier and faster than ever. The toolkit page, found on the website’s “Get Involved” dropdown menu item, is loaded with graphics and messages promoting the benefits of inland river shipping and rebuilding our lock and dam infrastructure.
The graphics can be easily downloaded directly from the page, and you’re just a cut/paste away from posting the provided text to any of your social media feeds. Even better – post these on your own website for your employees/members to find and share! Need help? Contact Paul Rohde, WCI Midwest Vice President, PRohde@waterwayscouncil.org.
Like WCI? Tell Us
One of several new features to Waterways Council’s new and improved website includes the rollout of a Member Testimonials page, which will feature a collection of accounts from our members endorsing the important work we’ve been doing, our recent achievements, and the value WCI membership provides to its members.
The page, found on the website’s “Membership“ dropdown menu item, will deliver our web visitors real-world descriptions from WCI members on why they’re a part of our association. After all, who better to illustrate the value of WCI membership than our members?
You can help us by providing a quote and photo to add to the page. How has WCI impacted your business? Is there something WCI does particularly well? What would you tell a prospective member to get them to join WCI? Send us a note and photo – we’d love to feature you on our website! Contact Paul Rohde, WCI Midwest Vice President, PRohde@waterwayscouncil.org.
Search Continues For Permanent WCI President/CEO
Notwithstanding disruptions caused by the pandemic, the process to select the new President & CEO of WCI continues. The search committee, consisting of Executive Committee members, hopes to present a candidate to the Executive Committee and Board this summer. Executive Search Firm Korn Ferry has been retained to help identify the best candidates for the role. WCI will apprise its members and the news media when the Board has selected a candidate. Stay tuned for this important announcement!
In Memoriam: William Harder
William (Bill) Harder, former Corps’ Programs Manager, Great Lakes & Ohio River Division, passed away on June 4 unexpectedly. He served the Corps from 2001 to 2013 when he retired. He was a strong advocate for the navigation and dredging program. In retirement, Bill was Board President of the Door County (Wisconsin) Maritime Museum.
Read his obituary here: https://www.blaneyfuneralhome.com/obituary/william-harder
WCI Annual Meeting and Fall Waterways Symposium To Be Virtual, November 11-13
After strong consideration by the WCI Executive Committee, it has been decided that the WCI Annual Meeting and Fall Waterways Symposium scheduled for November 11-13 in Las Vegas, will instead be held virtually. The agenda and schedule are in development and more information will be provided.
Industry Calendar (subject to change)
July 14-16: Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Association 2020 Annual Meeting (Grand Hotel, Point Clear, AL).
August 6: Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA) 2020 Virtual Seminar.
August 6: “Discover the Illinois Waterway” Forum, hosted by the Rock Island District Corps of Engineers, with panel discussions covering navigation, flood risk management, and environmental programs. An afternoon tour of the dewatered Peoria Lock and Dam will also be offered, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; registration begins at 8 a.m. (Peoria, IL, exact location TBD). Closer to the event,
August 12-13: Arkansas-Oklahoma Port Operators Association Membership Meeting and MKARNS Navigation Workshop (River Spirit Casino Resort, Tulsa, OK).
August 25-27: Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Conference (Grand Hotel, Point Clear, AL).
September 13-16: American Association of Port Authorities 2020 Annual Convention (Quebec City, Canada).
September 17: 10th Annual Rail Supply Chain Summit (Union League Club, Chicago).
Contact Mary Elisabeth Pitz, MPitz@MEPitzAssociates.com, or call 312/440-1038.
September 23-25: National Waterways Conference Annual Meeting 2020 (Houston). Contact http://waterways.org
September 29-October 1: Waterways Journal 2020 Inland Marine Expo (The Dome@America’s Center, St. Louis).